Pilgrims 0-2 Barrow
Barrow are a good team. They defend well and their front pair of Marc Coates and Neil Morton are a handful for any defence, but the 2-0 scoreline was slightly flattering. They scored their first goal following a defensive mistake and their second goal came right at the death, in the sixth minute of injury time, as Boston pushed everyone forward to try and get an equaliser. In the same fixture last year Paul Bastock went to pieces, following continual barracking from the Barrow supporters behind the goal, and he ended up being sent off for fouls on Barrow forwards. It was therefore good to see him put in a great performance today, full of confidence and making saves that top flight goalkeepers would be proud of. Steve Appleby also had a good game, which won him the man-of-the-match award. After his recent impressive performances as a substitute Danny Marshall started this match at the expense of Andrew Stanhope. Unfortunately after thirty-six minutes it was a mistake by Marshall which led to the first Barrow goal. Boston were on the attack and Marshall passed the ball across field, but he didn't really hit it hard enough and it was intercepted by Lee Prior who quickly knocked the ball forward to Neil MORTON who ran through to score. Before then the play had been fairly even. After fifteen minutes Neil Morton had put in a cross that just failed to get to Marc Coates and was knocked behind for a corner. Then at the other end Paul Cavell managed to get the ball through to Leroy Chambers inside the penalty area who shot wide. Barrow's Carl McAuley and Boston's Richard Mason were both booked for an off-the-ball incident after twenty minutes. Five minutes later Paul Bastock had to make a reflex save at the near post. Then Joby Gowshall saw his long range shot go inches wide of the left hand post. Immediately after the Barrow goal, Withe and Appleby combined to set up Steve Charles whose shot was pushed over the bar for a corner. Then Paul Bastock showed great confidence in saving a dipping long range shot from Lee Prior. Marshall nearly made amends for his mistake just before half-time when he dribbled across the front of the Barrow penalty area and put in a shot which was only just over the top. Steve Chambers' return to Unibond League football lasted just twenty-five minutes. He came on for Richard Mason early in the second half but later collapsed clutching his knee after turning sharply. After about five minutes of attention by the physio he was carried off on a stretcher. So it looks like another long lay-off could be on the cards. Ten minutes into the second half and Lee Prior missed an open goal. Barrow broke down the left wing and a cross came in to Prior who fired the ball over the top of the stand.
A punt down the middle by Paul Bastock bounced just right to give Leroy Chambers a free run at goal but he lobbed his shot well wide. Steve Appleby then battled past two defenders on the left hand edge of the area and put in a cross which came to Joby Gowshall. His first shot was blocked but it bounced back to him to let him put in another shot which was just over the bar. Andrew Stanhope then came on for Danny Marshall and Paul Watts came on for Steve Chambers following his injury. The Barrow goal was now peppered with shots. Leroy Chambers saw his effort pushed over the bar by the keeper, then Paul Cavell also shot just over the bar. A succession of corners were won, amongst which a Martin Hardy shot was cleared off the line by Barrow's Carl McAuley. Joby Gowshall also put a long range shot over the bar. In injury time Barrow had three excellent chances on the break as United threw everyone forward. They scored with the first, but it was disallowed for offside. Then Paul Bastock pulled off the save of the match to deny Marc Coates who had been put in the clear by a long high clearance. They scored at the third attempt when Marc COATES finally managed to get a shot past Paul Bastock into the net. I guess it is still a bit early to say for sure that our promotion hopes are over for another season, but it will clearly need a major upturn in our fortunes if we are to overcome the eleven point lead that Barrow have now opened up. From the performances so far this season it is clear that we have the makings of a very good team. However, Greg Fee (along with everyone else) has recognised that we need some new players who can unlock defences and score goals and he is actively seeking some. Last season we started with a glut of strikers, we even had to use the No. 2 shirt to accomodate an extra attacker in the side, but this season only Leroy Chambers has looked the part. Long term prospects look good as Paul Watts is showing promise and Neil Featherstone is scoring lots of goals for the reserves. Both of them could progress to regular first team places next season. But in the short term, without much money in the bank, it must be hard to attract players of the right calibre. We have a team that can create opportunities for any decent striker. Let's hope Greg Fee can use that argument to pursuade one to come to York Street.
United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Chris Withe, 4. Greg Fee, 5. Martin Hardy, 6. Steve Charles, 7. Danny Marshall, 8. Steve Appleby, 9. Paul Cavell, 10. Leroy Chambers, 11. Richard Mason, 12. Steve Chambers, 14. Paul Watts, 15. Andrew Stanhope.